Marines may face charges in alleged cabbie attack
January 10, 2008
OKINAWA CITY — Okinawa prefectural police are recommending that the Naha Prosecutor’s Office charge two Marines with robbery involving personal injury in connection with the assault of a 59-year-old Okinawan cab driver.
The recommendation was forwarded Tuesday to prosecutors, who have 20 days to question the two Marines with no lawyers present before deciding whether to present the charges for indictment.
The Marines remained in Okinawa police custody Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Okinawa City Assembly announced it will hold an emergency meeting of its military affairs committee Wednesday to consider filing a protest resolution expressing outrage over the attack and demanding the U.S. military control the off-base behavior of servicemembers.
According to an Okinawa prefectural police report, the two Marines, Cpl. Joseph Wayne Riddle, 20, and a 19-year-old private first class whose name was not released because he is a juvenile under Japanese law, attacked the cab driver about 3:40 a.m. Monday when he demanded they get out and pay a 2,780 yen (about $25) fare.
They allegedly punched him in the face and then chased after him when he fled from his taxi, hitting him in the head with a whiskey bottle and a piece of wood. Police, called to the area by another cab driver, apprehended the two a short while later.
The incident occurred in Okinawa City’s Mihara district. The cab driver said he picked up the two Marines at a convenience store near Camp Foster’s Kitamae gate and they asked him to drive them to an entertainment district.
Police reported that the cabbie suffered cuts to his head and bruises on his left arm. During questioning, the 19-year-old Marine admitted his involvement, while Riddle denied he took part in the assault, the police report said.
“The Marine Corps takes this incident very seriously and is working in close cooperation with local authorities in the investigation,” Marine spokesman 1st Lt. Garron Garn said in a press release.
“Misconduct by any U.S. Marine is unacceptable, either in this community or in any communities Marines reside in,” he said.
Keimitsu Kishimoto, owner of the Futaba Cab Company that employs the beaten driver, called the incident a “serious crime.”
“No doubt about it, but it was very fortunate that the injuries the driver sustained were not life threatening," he said.